But nature is a stranger yet;
The ones that cite her most
Have never passed her haunted house,
Nor simplified her ghost.
I usually get a couple of questions right off when people figure out I am vegetarian. “Why?” followed closely by “What do you eat?”
The answer to the latter question is simple. Everything else. The former has a little more complex answer. My reasons for never eating meat again have a lot to do with my deteriorating health before I switched, my love for the environment, and the idea that large herbivores who know pain and fear should be treated with some level of respect. I do know people who treat their animals well. My uncle, a cattle rancher in Nebraska, is one. I was there in June when he was worried about getting them out of the hot sun and into a pasture with trees and shade. He stays up all night with his cows during calving season which happens to be in the dead of winter in Nebraska and makes sure they have a nice bed of straw and heat when they are born. Sadly, most of our animals don’t have this level of care, and all of them come to the same miserable end. So I took myself out of this food chain, and I never looked back. Until I realized I couldn’t quite take myself totally out of the web of life and death because Mother Nature doesn’t at all resemble a vegetarian.
Mother Nature taught me this lesson in my garden. I grow amazing roses and herbs straight through the year due to our mild winter. I grow witchy herbs like rue and thyme, culinary herbs like oregano and basil. I have an uber green thumb like my farmer ancestors I guess. Everything was growing quite well for me until one day when I noticed some caterpillars eating my basil and crawling toward the thyme. I tried taking them off and putting them elsewhere, and by elsewhere I mean on the shrubs in our common area. They just came right back in a couple days. So, as a vegetarian, what do you do? You could try something to discourage them or you could spray some garden soap to kill them. If you don’t get rid of them, they will eventually kill your plants, however. These plants were important to me as they are also living things.
It dawned on me that Mother Nature doesn’t care about your ethical dilemmas. To save your living plants you will probably have to kill other living things much to your dismay. Mother Nature is not vegetarian, she will weave the web of life and create the green shoots of new growth and at the same time crumble the living to dust and rot. You can see it in a garden on a daily basis. The nest of a pigeon nestled in the roof today and the baby pigeon snatched by owls the next. Beautiful flowers and leaves one day, crumpled brown leaves and petals smashed in the mud and muck tomorrow. Nature is relentless, unforgiving and cruel. Mother nature devours, recycles, and regrows. She feeds off of life itself in merciless ways.
The best I could do is draw some sort of line that I would not cross and respect that line. Sometimes I found that I had to redraw the line. I used the soap on the caterpillars eating my basil and thyme. I crushed the bark scorpion with a shoe to protect my children and myself. I didn’t feel good about it. I carefully scooped up the wolf spider my cats were playing with and carried it to safety outside. Interestingly enough, I found that wolf spiders play dead to avoid extermination (smart little critters). I realized that to grow living things sometimes you have to destroy other living things in the process. That I had to draw a line disturbed me, but we are always drawing lines. Mother nature is a consuming entity not bothered by ethics or morals. She eventually destroys all that lives, and then miraculously out of death comes something new. This is the way of the earth and anyone who lives here, vegetarian or not. Clearly, I am not one to argue with Mother Nature.